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Title: Rental Challenges


Have you ever considered buying an investment property to rent
out or renting your personal residence, but were unsure of the
potential problems of renting? 

Real estate has been one of the best long-term investments, but
many potential investors give up on the idea because of property
management jitters. If you don't have time to look after a
property, there are many property management firms to undertake
this for you. Make sure the one you choose has the proper
qualifications and is licensed. A professional firm will be
insured, bonded and licensed in accordance with the Real Estate
Act of British Columbia. 

However, if you decide to undertake your own rental management
you should consider the following.

<b>1-Rental Rate</b>. The rental rate you set must be
competitive. Clients are astute and may have seen many
properties before they come to view yours. They will know if it
is overpriced. Some may make offers, but if they feel your
property is overpriced, the offer will likely be below market
value. Remember, if you price correctly you will rent faster and
will also get better tenants, as you will have more applicants
to choose from. 

 <b>2-Advertising.</b> Advertising is important. You want to
expose your property to as many potential tenants as possible
for the least cost. Choose a newspaper that targets readers in
the area of your rental property and keep the ad short and
precise. If you are able to display pictures of the property on
the internet, refer to the internet address in your ad. An
internet display can give you an edge over other properties and
save a lot of time for clients. 

 <b>3-Preparing the Property.</b> Make sure your property shows
well. Remove any clutter, dirt and odours. The first impression
is important. 

 <b>4-Showing the Property.</b> Be as accommodating as possible.
People will not wait around unless your property is unique.
Stack showings, as many people at once can create a sense of
excitement about your property. 

 <b>5-Taking Applications.</b> Ask the applicant to fill out a
detailed questionnaire giving previous landlord references, bank
references, employment details and giving you the authority to
do a credit check. Check all references and credit thoroughly.
Check with the realtor if the applicant's previous residence was
sold. The perfect tenant will treat your rental unit with
respect, will pay the rent on time, and won't damage the
property. This is the tenant you want to find. It may be cheaper
in the long run to leave the rental empty for a month or two
rather than to rent to the wrong person. Don't be tempted to
forego the checking process if a tenant is anxious to rent

 <b>6-Accepting/rejecting Applications.</b> Once you have
decided to rent to an applicant, act quickly. Meet with the
tenant to sign a lease and take your deposit as soon as
possible. The applicants you do not choose may call and ask for
a reason why they weren't accepted. Never give a reason other
than "the place is already taken" as giving reasons can lead to
legal consequences. 

 <b>7-Preparing the Lease.</b> Preparing a lease is fairly
straightforward. There are standard leases to be obtained from
the Residential Tenancy Branch or the internet. You may wish to
add property-specific clauses such as who looks after the
garden, pool, etc. It is a good idea to add a clause requiring
the tenant to carry insurance, including liability insurance,
naming the owner, as well as the tenant. The tenant's insurance
should also provide for the tenant to be paid additional living
expenses should the tenant have to move temporarily because of a
major incident such as a flood or a fire. Furthermore, you may
want to make the lease a fixed-term tenancy agreement with an
absolute expiry date. This way, you have the option to extend
the lease or decline an extension. 

 <b>8-Moving the Tenant In.</b> Before the tenant moves in, make
a detailed condition report of the property. The Residential
Tenancy Act now requires that such a report be filled out and
agreed to by both the tenant and the landlord. In addition, take
as many photographs as you can of the property on move-in date.
Date and time-stamp them if possible. 

 <b>9-Property Maintenance.</b> You must provide premises fit
for human habitation. This means they must be safe to live in
and not a health hazard. All apparatus must be in working order,
and it is your responsibility to keep them that way. If
something breaks down, you must have it repaired within a
reasonable period of time. The tenant is required to keep the
property clean and habitable and undamaged. If the tenant
damages the property whether intentionally or accidentally, the
tenant is responsible for the repair. 

 <b>10-Tenant Relations.</b> Always maintain a courteous,
professional relationship with your tenants. It is often harder
to deal with problems if you have become friends. 

 <b>11-Rent Collection.</b> Insist on post-dated cheques when
the lease is being signed. This simplifies rent collection. The
new Residential Tenancy Act allows landlords to make post-dated
cheques a condition of the lease. 

 <b>12-Checking the Property.</b> Under the new Act you now have
the right to inspect your property when you wish, with proper
notice. Drive by occasionally, and if you feel something is
awry, give notice to inspect. Be thoughtful if you have good
tenants, not to bother them too much. The new Act gives you the
right to end tenancies for illegal activities. 

 <b>13-Moving the Tenant Out.</b> When moving tenants in and
out, prepare a move in/out list with photos. If there is a
dispute, nothing is clearer than a picture. The standard
residential tenancy lease comes with property condition forms
for moving tenants in and out. You must complete these, and
failure to do so will result in losing the right to claim damage
against the security deposit. 

 <b>14-Dispute Resolution.</b> Try to resolve any disputes with
the tenant. If you cannot, then you can go to court, or
arbitration at the Residential Tenancy Branch. Details are
crucial now, including notes, a proper lease, and photos. The
new Act allows landlords to serve notice to tenants by posting a
notice on the front door, an improvement over the previous
arrangement of having to send registered mail.

Owning a rental property can be rewarding and a good investment.
The key to a trouble-free experience is finding the right
tenant. This may not be the first person who is willing to rent
the property, so take the time to do your "due diligence." 

And as said at the beginning of the article, if you don't have
time to manage your rental property yourself, then consider a
qualified, professional property management firm. They will be
insured, bonded and licensed in accordance with the Real Estate
Act of British Columbia. 

 Note: The above is for information purposes only and should not
be construed as legal advice. Consult a lawyer if you have
specific questions. 

About the author:
<a href=></a> is free
resource for British Columbia landlords/property managers to
market their listings and renters to search properties for rent.